Priest Settles Case; Said Diocese Covered up Dead Priest's Pornography

By Katharine Webster
Associated Press, carried in Foster's Daily Democrat [New Hampshire]
Downloaded May 14, 2003

The Rev. James A. MacCormack sued the Diocese of Manchester, McCormack and other church officials last July, saying they smeared his reputation and derailed his career to avoid a scandal.

Church officials responded by accusing MacCormack of exploiting the death of a fellow priest for financial gain.

The settlement was confidential, but MacCormack's lawyer, Robert McDaniel, described the financial award as satisfactory to both sides.

Patrick McGee, spokesman for the diocese, said that as part of the agreement, MacCormack had asked for a formal leave of absence from the priesthood and it had been granted.

"He will not participate in any priestly ministry or present himself publicly as a priest. Both parties are pleased that his matter is resolved," McGee said.

Asked whether the settlement required church officials to refrain from comments affecting MacCormack's reputation, McGee said, "We're not saying anything negative about Father MacCormack at this point."

MacCormack is working as a counselor in a public school now and does not plan to return to the priesthood, McDaniel said. However, he intends to remain active in the church reform movement, McDaniel said.

According to MacCormack's lawsuit, he helped authorities identify the body of the Rev. Richard Connors, who died on Nov. 14, 1999, at the home of two men.

The men said Connors had come to the house to buy a dog. However, according to the lawsuit and police records, Connors was clothed partially when he died and had a black leather device tied around his genitals.

Connors had been a mentor to MacCormack, who entered the priesthood in 1997, and was carrying his friend's business card when he died, so MacCormack was summoned to identify the corpse.

Later, MacCormack went to Connors' rectory, where he was joined by the Rev. Donald Clinton, a friend of the dead priest, and the Rev. John Quinn, head of financial affairs for the diocese, according to the lawsuit.

Quinn allegedly told the priests to help him scour Connors' residence for anything embarrassing. The lawsuit says the clergymen found hundreds of pornographic videotapes, as well as many pornographic images depicting "men engaged in sexual activity with boys."

The material was loaded into a car and later destroyed, according to a police report.

Diocesan officials said Connors was living an "immoral life" and that homosexual pornography was found, but they denied it involved boys. However, they acknowledged that it was dumped in a parish trash bin before police could see it.

In February 2002, when the priest sexual abuse scandal began rocking the diocese, church officials began to regard MacCormack as a threat and the bishop accused him of being mentally unstable, McDaniel said.

MacCormack underwent a psychological evaluation in April 2002 and was found to be mentally sound. But he said he left his parish a month later after the bishop became angry that he was quoted in a newspaper criticizing the church's handling of the sex abuse crisis.

Church officials say he left of his own free will and had not had an assignment since then.


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